The Importance Of Race Relations In Richard Wright's Black Boy

Submitted By myflowerdog
Words: 527
Pages: 3

Richard Wright’s autobiography Black Boy shows how his confusion over race relations profoundly impacted his life. Growing up in the woods of Mississippi, the story presents Richard’s awareness that two races, black and white, exist but his failure to fully understand race relations led to a lot of struggle in his life, causing him to assume the role of “black boy” as expected by society.
From a young age, an innocent Richard views no difference between black and white people. His lack of awareness is illustrated when he comments that his Granny, “who was white as any white person” never looked white to him (p. ***) In another situation, when Richard learns that a white adult male assaulted a black boy, we see that he feels the white man had a right to do what he did but not because he was white, rather because Richard believed him to be the boy’s parent. When he learns that the man was not the boy’s father, he is unable to comprehend this truth. His failure to recognize he difference between Blacks and Whites does not lessen with maturity. At a later age, while standing on the street with a friend, Richard fails to make way for some white passersby since he didn’t recognize the difference in the color of their skin that afforded them such preference.
While Richard grew up afraid of Whites, from lessons such as the one from his mother when she answers his questions about his uncle, who was killed by white people after both his uncle and aunt ran away to avoid attack from Whites. She warns Richard to “keep (his) mouth shut or the whites will get him too.” (p. **) Also, when he hears that a white male killed the brother of his friend, he is paralyzed by his thoughts, not able to do anything but think about the tragedy. While his understanding of race relations is confused, it is certain that his perception of whites is overall, negative. He is beat by white people and treated badly by most of